Temporary migration because of the floods: a thing of the past for Joyena Begum
Annual flooding can be incredibly disruptive; particularly if you’re an extreme poor household living on the riverbed of one of Bangladesh’s mighty rivers such as the Jamuna. Households have no choice but to temporarily leave their homestead in search of shelter on higher ground or in flood shelters; both of which are likely to be on the mainland.
They take whatever they can with them; including their assets such as livestock. Leaving anything behind runs the risk of theft or loss to the river.
This is why the CLP raises households two feet above the highest known flood level. We do this by building plinths which are essentially engineered mounds of earth that then become home to one or more households and all their belongings. By the end of CLP 2 in March 2016 we’ll have protected a third of a million people from flooding in this way.
But what does this really mean for the protected household? Well, for a start the need for them to temporarily migrate no longer exists. In fact, the raised plinths also act as temporary shelters for other households in the village. It’s common to see many, many villagers along with their livestock taking shelter on our plinths during the floods. Because water points and latrines are also raised on the plinth, access to water and a toilet throughout the year is possible, which is great for people’s health.
Joyena Begum from Nungola village in Gaibandha received support at the start of CLP 2. She’s a good example of a very successful participant. Joyena has been able to take the asset she received (a heifer) make a profit from it, reinvest and continue to grow her asset base. Incredibly, she now has three cattle, four goats, a sheep and more than twenty chickens. She’s also bought a threshing machine and has diversified into land.
Of course, Joyena has worked incredibly hard, she’s invested wisely and has no doubt had some good fortune along the way. But as she points out, the fact that her homestead is now on a raised plinth has helped her tremendously: “I could make all these assets because I did not have to lose anything due to sudden floods. This plinth has been a great protection and comfort for all of my assets and belongings throughout the years.”
Of course, Joyena’s plinth can’t protect her against the Jamuna’s powers of erosion. One day, hopefully in the very distant future, Joyena’s plinth will succumb to the river. She is, however, in a relatively strong position. She now has assets to cushion her against this and other potential shocks.
Click here to find out how plinths raised by CLP performed during the 2012 flood. Also, see how the local press has been covering the value of CLP’s plinths: